What Requirements Are There to Work in HVACR?

If you are thinking of a career in HVAC industry, there is no better time than now. HVAC technicians are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of HVAC professionals to grow by 14 percent between 2014 and 2024.

Quality training and the required certification are crucial for a successful career as an HVAC technician.

In this article, we will take a close look at the different requirements for certification in HVAC.

General Requirements For HVAC Work

Though not every state requires you to have an HVAC certification, it is highly advisable for several reasons. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says “Certifications can be helpful because they show that the technician has specific competencies. Some employers actively seek out industry-certified HVACR technicians.”

Technicians without a certification may miss employment opportunities in states that need certification. Fortunately, some states grant reciprocal practice privileges to those who have a license from other states.

HVAC certification extends the range of work a technician is authorized to perform. It gives more opportunities for continuous employment and better earnings. Employers prefer to hire technicians with certifications as they would demonstrate their competency.

Certification types and processes differ from state to state. In most states, HVAC certification or licensing is issued by the state government. In some states, regulations may vary from region to region and local departments or boards are responsible for issuing licenses.

Some states require technicians to have on-job experience before they take the certification exam. In some states, the certification exam may also be a part of the approved training program.

Modern HVAC systems are complex. Certifications demonstrate a technician’s knowledge and efficiency.

Environmental Protection Agency Certification

Environmental Protection Agency Certification is mandatory for all HVACR technicians who work with refrigerants across the country. They must pass an EPA-approved test specific to a related category based on the equipment they seek to work on.

Refrigerants can pose threats to people and environment. People who are working around supermarket freezers and chillers need to be cautious about the gases contained in the refrigerated systems.the refrigerants deal with. Professionals who want to buy or work with any kind of refrigerants are required to obtain EPA Certification. Refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment include risks of toxicity, flammability, and other hazards.

Section 608 of the Clean Air Act requires individuals who are involved in any kind of service, maintenance, or disposal of equipment that could release ozone-depleting refrigerants be certified.  To get this certification, they must pass a test at an EPA-approved organization. These regulations are necessary to protect the environment.

The EPA offers four types of certifications:

Type I

This certification is for the technicians who handle small appliances.

The test covers:

  • System evacuation practices
  • Safety practices when handling refrigerants
  • Gas recovery requirements and techniques

Type II

This certification is for the technicians who service high-pressure or very high–pressure air conditioning and/or heating units.

The test covers:

  • Leak detection and leak repair requirements
  • Gas recovery requirements and techniques
  • Safety practices when using equipment

Type III

This certification is for the technicians who work with low-pressure refrigerants.

The test covers:

  • Leak detection and leak repair requirements
  • Recovery techniques and recovery requirements
  • Recharging techniques and refrigeration
  • Safety practices when handling refrigerants

Universal Certificate

This certification is for the technicians who work with appliances of all kinds and sizes. As the name suggests, this certification includes Types I, II, and III.

Apprentices working under the supervision of a certified technician are exempted from certification requirements.

Not Always Required, But Recommended

It is always important to plan your HVAC career well from the beginning. Choose a reputable trade school that equips you with both theory and practical knowledge. Keeping up with new trends and technology in the industry is essential.

Gain practical knowledge in different aspects like installation, service, repair, and maintenance. Apprenticeships will give the much needed on-job experience that will make you stand out in the crowd.

Training and Apprenticeship

Aspiring HVAC technicians can take up a certificate program or an associate’s degree program. Associate’s degree programs groom them for HVAC job besides completing general education courses.

An apprenticeship within the program can provide a valuable real-world experience. At times, it may increase the duration of the program but nothing beats the opportunity of real-world experience.

Additional Certifications

Experts recommend North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and HVACV Excellence Certifications for better career opportunities.

NATE Certification

NATE Certification is a nationally recognized program for HVACR technicians. To obtain this certification, the technicians must pass both core and specialty tests. These are multiple-choice and knowledge-based tests.   Technicians can obtain certification in one or more specialty areas such as air conditioning, heat pumps, and gas furnaces. The certification is valid for five years.

A recent survey says that 76% of customers prefer an HVAC technician with NATE Certification. Furthermore, NATE certified technicians earn more than those without the certification.

HVAC Excellence

HVAC Excellence Certification is another well-recognized certification in the HVAC industry. Different levels of certifications available from HVAC Excellence are Master Specialist Hands-On Certification, Professional Technician Certification, Employment Ready Certification, and Student Outcome Assessment for High Schools.

A Professional Technician Certification candidate requires two or more years of field experience.

A Master Specialist Hands-On Certification candidate requires three years of field experience and must pass a written exam.


The HVAC industry is growing at a significant rate and technicians are in high demand. Good hands-on training combined with necessary certification will help you build a rewarding career in the HVAC field. Certified or licensed technicians have more privileges and broader opportunities than those who do not have certification. If you work with refrigerants, you’ll need EPA certification. And be sure to check local and state requirements for further requirements that may exist.